This roasted barley and chestnut soup is a highly nourishing meal on a cold winter’s day, because it primarily improves kidney energy. It will help to warm up the whole body, and eating it once a week during cold winter months is most beneficial for people suffering from aches and pains aggravated by the cold weather.
- 6 shallots, trimmed, with skin left on,
- 4 cloves garlic with skin left on,
- 2 large carrots, washed,
- 11⁄4 cups celeriac, peeled and cubed,
- 1in (21⁄2cm) piece fresh ginger, washed,
- 1⁄2lb sweet chestnuts, fresh or precooked,
- 11⁄2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced,
- 2 long blades wakame seaweed, chopped into small pieces, or 2 tbsp wakame flakes,
- 31⁄2oz (100g) roasted barley (see note),
- 1 tbsp barley miso,
- flat-leaf parsley, to decorate (optional).
Makes 4 servings
- If you’ll use fresh chestnuts, roast them first (see note below).
- Place the whole shallots, garlic, carrots, celeriac, and ginger into a large saucepan, pour over 16fl oz (500ml) of water, and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, over low heat for at least an hour, adding some more water if necessary.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the liquid through a colander into a clean saucepan. Pick out the garlic and shallots from the cooked vegetables and squeeze them out of their skins and return to the soup.
- Add the chestnuts to the soup and bring to the boil. Add the mushrooms, wakame seaweed, and roasted barley, and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Then add the barley miso and stir until dissolved, remove from the heat, and serve in bowls decorated with the parsley.
NOTE: To roast barley, soak it overnight in lukewarm water, drain, and allow to dry on a baking sheet covered with a clean cloth. When the barley is still damp, heat a large frying pan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add a quarter of the barley, stirring nonstop. When the grain turns golden brown and makes a gravely noise as you stir it, transfer it on a plate and leave to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining 3 batches. Store in an airtight jar if you prepare the barley a couple of days before making the soup.
NOTE: To roast fresh chestnuts, chip into the apex, or tip, of each nut with a sharp knife and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 20–25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Wrap each chestnut in a cloth and squeeze hard to crush the shell, then peel it all off.